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Redskins are trying to catch a rising star

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Redskins are trying to catch a rising star

Bruce Allen and the Redskins are trying to accomplish one of the most difficult feats in all of sports.

They are trying to catch a rising star.

From looking at the head coaching candidates that we know about the most notable thing is a lack of notable NFL accomplishments. Jim Caldwell was the head coach of a Super Bowl team but, as certain politicians might say, he didn’t build that. Perry Fewell does have a Super Bowl ring he earned as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants and Rich Bisaccia has one from his days as the Bucs’ special teams coordinator. But, by and large, the group lacks hardware.

And while not all of the candidates are kids, only Mike Zimmer, who is 57, and 58-year-old Jim Caldwell are as old as Mike Shanahan was when he took the Redskins job four years ago. Jay Gruden, possibly the front runner, is 46. Sean McDermott won’t turn 40 until after free agency starts. James Franklin turns 42 next month.

The idea is simple, really. You find a coach who doesn’t necessarily have a fat resume but one who is high on energy, has leadership qualities, and has a vision for where he wants to take a football team. You make him your own and go on to accomplish great things together for the next 10 or 15 years.

Of course, that is much easier said than done. NFL teams (and other sports teams and, for that matter, businesses and organizations of all types) are constantly trying to identify and hire people who have not yet hit their peak and appear to have a very high ceiling.

The Redskins have tried this approach a couple of times in the last 30+ years. Joe Gibbs, who was 40 when the Redskins hired him in 1981, was the ultimate rising star. He was the offensive coordinator for some very good (but not champion) Chargers teams. But he worked under Don “Air” Coryell, a certified offensive genius. How much of the credit for the San Diego offense did he deserve?

But after trying to force the Coryell system onto the Redskins led to an 0-5 start to his career, Gibbs struck his own path, developed The Hogs, and won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks.

Norv Turner was 41 when the Redskins made him their head coach in 1994. He was thought to be the prototypical rising star after serving as the offensive coordinator on the Cowboys’ back to back Super Bowl champs. Needless to say, he did not work out as well as Gibbs.

Still, one has to wonder what might have happened if Turner had been set up as well as Gibbs in terms of player talent. He walked in the door and found Joe Theismann, John Riggins, Art Monk, Mark Moseley, Dave Butz, Monte Coleman, and a few other key pieces to the team’s first Super Bowl title. Turner came in to a team with Darrell Green and not much more.

It’s doubtful that Turner could have achieved what Gibbs did even if he had arrived to find the likes of Theismann and Monk. But we’ll never know if Joe Gibbs would have survived long enough to win three rings and become a legend had he come to Redskins Park with John Friesz, Heath Shuler, and Gus Frerotte at QB, Reggie Brooks at running back, and Desmond Howard at wide receiver.

So there is an element of good fortune in turning from a rising star into a consistent winner as a head coach. Whoever takes this job probably won’t have it as good as Gibbs did but an offensive core of Pierre Garçon, Trent Williams, Alfred Morris, and Robert Griffin III is a good place to start.

Both Gibbs and Turner came into a relative stable environment at Redskins Park. That word can’t be used to describe the state of things in Ashburn today.

So whether the Redskins find the next legend or the next Norv may not depend totally on the man they hire. But the wrong guy won’t be able to maximize whatever talent is there, so finding the right man comes first.

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The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

The Final Countdown: Eli Manning goes deep for the Redskins 7th worst play of the year

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 7 worst play of 2016

Giants at Redskins, Week 17

4:02 left in Q4, Giants ball 1st and 10 at their own 31, game tied 10-10

Eli Manning pass deep left to Tavarres King pushed ob at WAS 25 for 44 yards (Will Blackmon).

Related: The Redskins week that was

Tandler: It looked like the Redskins were on the verge of saving their season. They were down 10-0 in the third quarter but they battled back to tie it up in the late going. But after lulling the Redskins defense to sleep with running plays and short passes, Manning launched one deep down the left sideline. King, who had one reception for six yards on the season coming into the game, had a step on cornerback Greg Toler and he hauled in the pass for 44 yards. Four plays later Robbie Gould kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants the lead.

More Redskins: Offensive coordinator situation set?

Finlay: In a terrible game that led to many more questions than answers for the Redskins, this play was just a huge, huge disappointment. Washington fought back to tie up a game that they had largely been outplayed in, particulrly in the first half. Remember, the Giants had nothing to play for while for the 'Skins, a win would put them in the playoffs. The New York offense was laregly nonexistent in the second half of this game, as it became obvious Eli Manning did not want to get hit. And still, the embattled Redskins defense gave up a long pass play to a dude that had contrbuted basically nothing all season. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Report: One team Redskins need to watch out for when it comes to Kirk Cousins this offseason

Mike Shanahan likes Kirk Cousins, both as a person and as a quarterback. The former Redskins coach has made no secret about that. Luckilly for the 'Skins, especially with Cousins staring at free agency, Mike Shanahan is no longer coaching in the NFL.

His son Kyle, however, seems highly likely to take over as San Francisco 49ers head coach. And soon.

Kyle Shanahan currently serves as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, and once their playoff run ends, most expect Shanahan to be named Niners head coach. 

Why should Washington fans care? Allow ESPN's Adam Schefter to explain:

Kyle Shanahan is set to become the San Francisco 49ers' head coach after Atlanta's season ends. San Francisco needs a quarterback as much as any other team in the league. If Cousins is available, the 49ers would pursue him as hard as they've pursued Shanahan.

Even if Washington tags Cousins, San Francisco could attempt to pry him loose in a trade with a package that could include this year's No. 2 overall draft pick. And if Washington doesn't want to deal now, it could have issues later.

This news should not be a shock to Skins fans, but it should be taken seriously. Remember, Kyle Shanahan was part of the Washington organization when Cousins was drafted and the duo worked together in 2012 and 2013. Most quarterbacks would love to run Shanahan's No. 1 ranked offense from Atlanta, and the guess here says Cousins would probably jump at the opportunity. 

Still, much must be worked out.

While some in the Washington front office might have questions about what the long-term value should be in a Cousins contract, the team still has some control. They can place the franchise tag on Cousins this season, like they did last season, and work until mid-summer on a multi-year deal. Or Cousins can again play on a franchise tag in 2017, like he did in 2016 and passed for nearly 5,000 yards.

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What makes Schefter's report the most interesting is the mention of the No. 2 overall pick. Observing the Redskins in 2016, it became obvious the team needs more impact players on defense, and with the second overall pick combined with their own 17th pick and eight more after that, that could deliver an immediate boost. 

Whatever boost a package of draft picks might bring in will be hard pressed to match the production of Cousins. Finding a starting quarterback in the NFL is exceptionally hard, and while Cousins has shown flashes of a special player, he has certainly confirmed he is a capable player in two seasons at the helm of Jay Gruden's offense.

Scot McCloughan and the Redskins brain trust have a few more weeks before free agency, and with it, the deadline to again place the franchise tag on Cousins. It's nearly impossible to see a scenario where Cousins hits the open market this season, but if the No. 2 overall pick comes into play, other scenarios start to seem more possible. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!